Particularly shows like Maury and Jerry Springer. I would like to first fill this space with an invitation to a 1800 number that will accept submissions for content.
I began by wondering if one might be able to identify a truly "public" space. Isn’t Zucotti Park privately owned? Maybe there are less tangible spaces to occupy. Then I started thinking about the idea of the commons. Could I create a public space where previously there was none? Could this be a sort of trans-spatial commons? Could this intervention be a performance?
My title comes from “Performance Art in Southern California: An Overview” in which Linda Frye Burnham, lists the different kinds of audiences who might have been privy to the works she explores:
“The audiences of the above performances range from the unknown public of Lacy and Labowitz-Starus, Smith’s circle of personal friends and fellow artists to the close-knit women-only audience of the Lesbian theater event...” (488)
I chose the designation “unknown public” because while I can imagine an audience that might engage with the work, I do not want to “know” them. That is, I do not want the content of their viewing time to be made up of assumptions about their aspirations, needs, or wants.
I want to create a space for this unknown public to fill with content, however hushed, loud, didactic, or intimate.
I’m imagining contexts like the ones in which I encounter daytime network television. Often I am sitting still for 6 or 7 hours in Sogho Express, and African salon on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Paying for cable TV would be at waste at Sogho, and so channel 11 is allowed to hum in the background.
Or I’m imagining how my sister watches it when she comes home from working the night shift, sends her daughter to school, and then stays up with daytime-insomnia. These are spaces solitude or of intimacy.
I’m imagining spaces like this, and spaces unknown. I see the TV as a conduit between private, personal space, and an outside world. Network television is private, or at least privately owned, but not intimate. Could there be a new paradigm for the commercial break? Maybe it could truly be a "break" or moment of rest; one that is simultaneously public and intimate.
Ads for Corinthian Colleges, ads for disability lawsuits, ads for pre-paid phones and payday loans…
I would like to replace them with a call to self-determination that differs from the siren call "Hey Ladies! Get up!" Such advertisments not only name an audience, but define the limits of who said audience can be.They tell a story of stasis. I would like to remove these ads, meant to lure "ladies" into debt, and replace them with viewer-generated content.
"Every position-taking is defined in relation to the space of possibles which is objectively realized as a problematic in the form of the actual or potential position-takings corresponding to the different positions; and it receives its distinctive value from its negative relationship with the coexistent position-takings to which it is objectively related and which determine it by delimiting it."
- Pierre Bourdieu "The Field of Cultural Production" (p30)
Below is a transcript from a 2004 interview with Jerry Springer:
The violence of a pink slip on a Friday afternoon that says you've been laid off and now you don't have enough money to take care of your family. You know, job insecurity, the inability to get health insurance, that you have to choose should I take my medicine this month, or do I buy my kid a coat for the winter? So the Democratic party exists in America today to provide protection for middle and low-income America, particularly against economic violence as well as military violence.
Has doing the show for these last 8, 10 years, has it informed your political thinking in any way?
No. It's just confirmed it. Any job I've ever had it's been the same constituency, it's been middle and low-income people that need a voice, that need help, that need whatever. So, even in my entertainment, that's my base. In politics, it certainly was my base. When I practiced law, it was my base. This is who I am.
-This American Life Episode 258: Leaving the Fold ORIGINALLY AIRED 01.30.2004
I can tell Jerry Springer is a man in search of redemption. Perhaps he can put his money where his mouth is. At the end of his show, he urges his viewers to take care of themselves, and to take care of each other. I can tell Jerry Springer is a man of contradictions. Of course he will continue to be so even if he gets on board with my project, but perhaps together we can reconcile some of our internal discord.
I recently encountered a peice by James Case-Leal in which he temporarily pirated channel 17 on the TV in Brooklyn using radio towers he built
Hopefully after an initial response the intervention would then be populated by caller content. This could be visual, sonic, textual, etc. My task would be to give it airtime.
Will this process define a public space? How will I circumvent my role as curator, or filter? I see this as an experiment that might begin to define answers to these questions.